‘African-American Sports Legends’ featured at Ethnic Heritage Museum

Autographed Magic Johnson jersey. Photo provided

From press release

‘Tis the season for football and basketball, and Ethnic Heritage Museum’s Black History Month exhibit will salute internationally-known African-American sports legends. This exhibit will go on display from 2 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 6.

The “African-American Sports Legends” exhibit will display authentic uniforms, photographs and other memorabilia, most of which are signed by the players. Some of the items visitors will view come from such legendary players as the Chicago Bears’ Gale Sayers and Walter Payton, the Los Angeles  Lakers’ Magic Johnson, baseball greats Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, and golfer Tiger Woods. In the world of boxing, see boxing legends Joe Louis and Mohammad Ali. A must-see are items from the Negro Baseball League.

These irreplaceable items are on loan from Dr. Robert Head, president of Rockford College.

The “African-American Sports Legends” exhibit will highlight the football career of Rockford native Marshall Starks. Starks started his football career at West High School and played for the University of Illinois. Starks, the first African-American from the Rockford area to play in the NFL, was the sixth-round draft choice for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1961. He then played for the New York Jets (1963-64). Starks still holds the record for his 97-yard return of a missed field goal kicked by George Blanda of the Houston Oilers.

The Ethnic Heritage Museum, 1129 S. Main St., Rockford, is unique in its blend of ethnic groups: African-American, Polish, Italian, Lithuanian, Irish and Hispanic. A visit to each gallery will enlighten visitors of the cultural history of each of these groups.

The “African-American Sport Legends” exhibit will be on display until Sunday, Feb. 27. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.

Autographed jersey of Cool Papa Bell. Photo provided

Join the museum at 1:30 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 20, at Cliffbreakers Restaurant for a special afternoon to benefit its capital campaign. Its “Love and Marriage” event will include a delicious Sunday dinner and the showing of ethnic wedding dress and traditions. Enjoy special entertainment and displays from the museum’s ethnic groups. The cost is $35 for adults or $10 for children. For more information, contact Barb Berman at (815) 289-3551 or e-mail bberman@phonesmore.com.

Visit Ethnic Heritage Museum’s website at www.ethnicheritagemuseum.org or e-mail the museum at ehm1129@comcast.net. Group tours can be arranged by contacting the museum at (815) 962-7402 or by e-mailing ehm1129@comcast.net. The museum is handicap accessible.

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